Latest content: Governance and law

The security and integrity of computer systems, digital data and networks have grown to be major concerns for states, organisations and people as a result of the development of the information society. Such concerns arise from the fact that malicious acts, such as ransomware, which target computer systems and their networks, have the potential to cause harm to individuals, countries and the global economy. Accordingly, many states and intergovernmental organisations across the world have taken steps to establish legal measures to criminalise and deter malicious acts that affect the integrity, confidentiality, availability and security of digital data and computer systems.
Read publication - Commonwealth Countries' Cybercrime Laws: An Overview
Leading competition authorities across the world have attempted in recent years to understand how companies operating within the digital space can use data to their competitive advantage and how this can distort competition and cause consumer detriment, but also how data protection laws themselves affect competition in digital markets.2 However, although the digital economy in the CSME is growing, there have been no similar attempts to understand these issues in the region.

The study approaches this issue from two perspectives. First, it provides an up-to-date overview of the international developments in this area and benchmarks the current CSME legislative framework against these international precedents. Second, the study also collects and presents baseline information on data protection and privacy in the region, to determine whether the legislative and regulatory frameworks in CSME member countries can address modern competition, consumer protection and international trade concerns.
Read publication - Impact of Data Protection and Privacy on Regulating Competition and Consumer Protection for Digital Markets within CSME
In all countries, and at all levels of government, performance seems to lie in the eyes of the beholder. Different individuals looking at the same set of facts come to widely different conclusions. Divergent views and opinions about appropriate policies and their related programmes and projects are not only understandable, but a sine qua non of a healthy democratic system. However, divergent views about the performance of a government – implementation of policies, programmes and projects – are much harder to reconcile for lack of a fact-based consensus.

The private sector, on the other hand, does not face this problem. If a private sector company presents its financial statement and claims that it has made US$350 million profit, we accept it on its face value – not because we trust them blindly, but because those financial statements are prepared using the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These statements, in turn, are audited by an external auditor to ensure that the statements were indeed prepared using those principles. If they do not stand up to an audit, then there are consequences, such as a loss of confidence by investors, often expressed as a sharp drop in the price of publicly traded shares.
Read publication - Towards Generally Accepted Performance Principles (GAPP)
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, has echoed the concern of His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, after President Nicolás Maduro of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela promulgated the Organic Law for the Defence of Essequiba on 3 April 2024.   
Read news - Statement by the Commonwealth Secretary-General in support of Guyana after Venezuela’s recent legislation on the April 3rd Organic Law on Essequibo 
The Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, KC has expressed deep concern at the 21 September decision of the Venezuelan National Assembly to undertake a referendum on the status of the Essequibo region, part of the sovereign territory of the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Read news - Statement by the Commonwealth Secretary-General on the escalation of the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute 
The negative effects of climate change on nature and humankind are wide-ranging and multifaceted, and it is accepted that the most vulnerable communities, who have contributed the least to the causation of climate change, are likely to be disproportionately affected by these adverse effects. It is insufficient for only certain countries to take action to mitigate the causes of climate change; rather it is urgent that a global effort is mobilised.

The Paris Agreement, which all 56 Commonwealth member countries have ratified, commits signatories to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Signatories to the Paris Agreement are required to submit nationally determined contributions (NDC) every five years containing mitigation commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To meet these commitments, it is necessary for Commonwealth member countries to put in place carefully considered legal frameworks and policies to reduce their emissions and limit the pace of climate change.
Read publication - Commonwealth Carbon Tax Model Law
This book communicates a major research exercise spanning six Commonwealth member states on the African continent. Its findings will likely have resonance much farther afield within, and globally beyond, the Commonwealth. Its mixed-methods approach includes rich and insightful qualitative research and detailed and illuminating quantitative enquiry.
Read publication - Enterprise Risk Management as a Strategic Tool in Improving Governance
The Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana was convened in New York on 17 September 2023 by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, in accordance with a mandate given by the Commonwealth Heads of Government to monitor “developments in respect of the existing controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.”
Read news - Statement - The Commonwealth supports Guyana’s territorial integrity and calls for the respect of the judicial process underway
The objective to ‘combat all forms of organised crime’ has been recognised as one of the 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Target 16.4), demonstrating the unmistakable interrelationship between security and development. Organised crime, which we define using the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, involves a group of three or more persons that was not randomly formed, operating during a period of time in order to obtain directly or indirectly a financial or other material benefit. It is a persistent issue in the Caribbean (UNODC 2003).

A study by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime has demonstrated that organised crime could directly and significantly impact the ability to achieve 23 out of the 169 SDG targets, almost 15 per cent of them (Reitano et al. 2015). It is clear from this analysis that organised crime is a cross-cutting issue that will considerably impact SDG achievement.
Read publication - Underestimated and Overlooked: Reducing the Cost of Crime and Violence for Improved Financing for Development in the Caribbean
Mediation is growing in importance as a mode of dispute resolution, as more and more parties in an ever-wider range of disputes recognise its potential. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR), with Thuso Ltd, has produced a guide for practitioners and policy-makers to the history, practice and potential of this non-adversarial path.
Read news - Commonwealth Secretariat Empowers Legal Practitioners with New Guide on Mediation
By examining the position of mediation in a tradition of ‘adversarial’ court-adjudicated disputes, The Commonwealth Guide to Mediation chronicles the evolution of mediation as a case management tool. Furthermore, it explores the various models that have been adopted, identifying emerging areas of innovation and highlighting exemplars of good practice.
Read publication - The Commonwealth Guide to Mediation: A Resource for Practitioners and Policy-makers
This first issue of the CCJ examines contemporary issues and topics such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in judicial decision-making in criminal matters; co-dependency between cybercrime and organised crime; data privacy concerns in relation to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) working practices; a comparative review of national cybercrime laws; regional cyber-criminogenic theory; cybercrime reporting; and cyber diplomacy co-operation on cybercrime.
Read publication - Commonwealth Cybercrime Journal: Volume 1, issue 1